Archive for 02/10/2014


Municipal Dreams

The London County Council built over 89,000 homes between the wars.   Over half – some 47,000 – were built in out-of-county ‘cottage suburbs’.   The Watling Estate, then in the urban district of Hendon, was the third largest of these (after Becontree and St Helier) with a population of 19,000 by 1939. But not everyone was sympathetic to the drive to rehouse Londoners from the crowded inner-cities, at least not in their backyard: (1)

Under construction, 1927: Burnt Oak Station to the right and Watling Avenue and Watling Avenue and Barnfield Road in centre © Britain from Above, EPW019190 Under construction, 1927: Burnt Oak Station to the right and Watling Avenue with Watling Avenue and Barnfield Road in centre © Britain from Above, EPW019190

Isn’t it time that Mill Hill woke up and tried to save itself from being trampled to death? Already the raw, red tentacles of that housing octopus, the London County Council Watling Estate, are pushing their way through the green meadows, devouring everything in their path…LCC wooden bungalows face houses that sold a…

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Rethinking Childhood

I was in Bilbao a few weekends ago and spent several evenings in Plaza Nueva, a square in the old town and a popular weekend meeting place for local people. While grown-ups enjoyed drinks and tapas (or to use the Basque term, pintxos) in bars under the elegant colonnades, the central area was humming with children playing. Ball games, scooter races, chalk-picture-drawing, heely tricks (remember Heelys?) and chit-chat were just some of what was in the mix.

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Culture and Anarchy

IMG_1280While I tend to find a bit of Gothic in everything, sometimes it stares you in the face, and onIMG_1288 a recent visit to the landscape gardens at Stowe I felt as though I was walking back into the eighteenth century. The grounds are run by the National Trust, while Stowe School occupies the house and surrounding buildings. From the 1730s Stowe was renowned for its gardens, with visitors coming from all over the world to see them, but in the 1740s ‘Capability’ Brown, at the beginning of his career, was appointed to redesign the grounds, and though some of the original features (such as the temple) were kept, the more formal aspects of the garden vanished, with the idea of ‘landscape’ taking over.

Viscount Cobham, the man responsible for taking on the young Brown to reshape his gardens, was part of the beginning of a revolution in taste, of…

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